Monday, June 24, 2013

Navigating health insurance after graduation: Advice for the Class of 2013

The big news in the Schick family earlier this month…my son’s graduation from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA – my alma mater! The commencement was beautiful and the speaker, Katie Couric, bestowed her wisdom and life advice on the graduates, and got me thinking about advice in general.

The Schick family with the president of Randolph-Macon College, Robert Lindgren
I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with the commencement speaker, Katie Couric

One piece of advice that recent college grads must consider has to do with health insurance.  Some lucky graduates have jobs lined up with health benefits.  God bless ’em.  My son is not one of the lucky few.  So as he begins his search, he, like many others, may have to stay on our family health plan until he lands a job.

But many grads may go uninsured.  In fact, the U.S. Census measures that nearly three in ten people age 19 to 35 are uninsured, the highest proportion among all groups.

Statistically speaking, people in the 19-35 age group are typically fairly healthy. But nobody is free from the risk of being in an accident or developing a disease, and it’s important that young adults make smart decisions to protect their future health and finances.

So, here’s my advice:
  •  Don’t risk going uninsured. If you are eligible, consider staying on your parents’ health insurance plan until you turn 26.  Buying your own individual coverage, however, may actually be more affordable, so be sure to compare the cost.
  •  If you decide to buy your own coverage, make sure to include all health costs when determining how much you can afford, including monthly premiums and any out-of-pocket costs for health care services and prescriptions.
  •  Ask questions. Solicit parents’ and family members’ advice, check out reputable insurance company websites or visit with a local independent insurance broker to learn the basics about health insurance.
  • Consider a high deductible health plan. For many young, healthy people, high deductible plans make sense because they provide quality coverage at lower premium rates.
  • Consider short term health insurance plans that can offer you temporary coverage for the remainder of 2013. Be sure to find a plan that lets you drop your coverage without penalty if you find a job with employer-sponsored health insurance benefits in the meantime.
  • Do your homework.  Check out this video for more information
While you may or may not follow my advice on this one, when I asked my UHC team about the power of really good advice, an interesting theme emerged; most people, even young people, are inspired by advice that calls them to action, pushes them to get results and move forward without regrets. 

My husband and son (front left) walk with other parents and students as students prepare to receive their degree.
My son, Andy, says the job market is really tough. But, he has a final interview this week so he may have a full-time gig soon…can you say “proud Mom”?

Congratulations class of 2013!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Defined contribution health plans come to companies with 51-99 employees

The hottest thing in health insurance—the defined contribution plan—is now available to organizations with 51-99 employees in Pennsylvania and other states across the country.

Last year UnitedHealthcare was the first health insurer to begin offering defined contribution health plans to Pennsylvania employers with 50 or fewer employees. Effective June 1st, we expanded our offering to include Pennsylvania groups with 51-99 employees.

The plan, called Multi-Choice, includes access to UnitedHealthcare’s strong national and local provider network which consists of over 33,000 providers, over 200 hospitals across the state of Pennsylvania and all hospitals in Western Pennsylvania including the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center facilities and West Penn Allegheny Health System. The newly expanded plan also includes additional broker distribution and the ability to add specialty benefits, such as dental, life and vision, to standard health plans.

With defined contribution health care, the employer gives employees a defined amount for the health benefit and a menu of many health care plans from which to choose. Depending on the plan selected, the employee will pay more or less of a premium. Many health insurers are going to the defined contribution model, because it gives employees more choice without raising the cost to employer.

The flexibility of this plan design makes offering health insurance more cost-effective and financially predictable. It also gives small businesses parity with their larger competitors when it comes to this important employee benefit, something they’ve never had before. In a defined contribution world, it’s easy for people to address the specific health needs of their family.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it over and over again, now more than ever, everyone involved in the health care industry has a vested interest in making our health care system simpler and smarter – allowing for a better patient experience, delivering the best possible outcome and reducing the overall costs of care. An innovative product like Multi-Choice is just one of the many ways we at UnitedHealthcare are doing our part.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Cycling clinic, kickboxing, cultural dancing – we did it all at our South Philly office

We Philadelphians love our bicycles.

In fact, a study from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia shows that Philadelphia has twice as many bicycle commuters per capita than any other big city in the U.S., and the number continues to grow.

At UnitedHealthcare, we love our bikes, too. We even sponsor a pro cycling team that competes worldwide. In fact, our team was in town for the Philly Cycling Classic on June 2nd and took time from their training schedule to conduct a cycling clinic for over 40 kids at our South Philly office.

Pro cyclists Jeff Louder and Danny Summerhill talked about how to eat, train and ride like a professional cyclist. The program was geared toward students from the World Communications Charter School, but contained great health and fitness education for the whole community. Both Jeff and Danny made it clear that you don’t have to aspire to be a professional to enjoy cycling, and everyone can see the benefits of good nutrition and regular exercise in their daily lives.

During the clinic, UnitedHealthcare and the cycling team were also proud to donate $1,000 to the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation to purchase a stationary bike for community use.

UnitedHealthcare and their pro cycling team donated $1,000 to the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation to invest in a stationary bicycle.  Left to right: UnitedHealthcare’s Angelica Cuellar Hardin; pro cyclist Jeff Louder; Lisa Wright; pro cyclist Danny Summerhill; and John W. Chin, executive director, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

The cycling clinic was held at our retail office in South Philadelphia, which we opened last year to better serve the community on a face-to-face basis. The office offers information and assistance to anyone who wants to learn more about their health care options, and provides special service to the unique health care needs of people of diverse cultural backgrounds, including those that do not speak English.

The clinic coincided with the one-year anniversary celebration of the office opening. In addition to the cycling clinic, the day was filled with fitness activities like kickboxing, zumba and line dancing, as well as cultural performances, such as hip-hop dancing, salsa dancing by George Dennis of Mambodelphia, and the Rejang and Randa Nabia Indonesian dances. Families also enjoyed fun activities such as face painting and Wii console gaming.

UnitedHealthcare mascot Health E. Hound cheered on dancers from a youth hip hop dance group.

After a great day of fitness tips and multicultural celebration, we had further reason to celebrate on Sunday when a member of UnitedHealthcare’s pro cycling team, Kiel Reijnen, won the Philly Cycling Classic. Kiel finished the 120-mile race in only 4 hours, 35 minutes, and 34 seconds. I’m very proud of Kiel and the entire UnitedHealthcare cycling team for such a great win in my hometown!